Oregon Judge, Under Fire,|Tells of Soccer Tiffs

     SALEM, Ore. (CN) – An ethics hearing for an Oregon judge who refused to officiate at same-sex marriages and hung a portrait of Adolf Hitler in his courtroom turned Thursday to whether the judge used his authority to intimidate a referee at his son’s soccer game.
     On the third day of his hearing, Marion County Circuit Court Judge Vance Day said he attended most of his son’s soccer games at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. But he told the 10-member panel of the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability that this game was different.
     On Oct. 17, 2013, Chemeketa was playing a home game with a big rival, Clark College from Vancouver, Wash. It was a rowdy game, with seven yellow cards handed out.
     At one point, Day’s son leapt for a header at the same time as his opponent. Both missed and bashed their heads together. Daniel Day fell to the ground, temporarily losing consciousness.
     Andrew Deuker, center referee for the soccer game, said during the hearing in the State Capitol Building that he took the injury seriously.
     “He immediately fell to the ground, so I stopped the game and called for the trainer to come out,” Deuker said during questioning by assistant commission attorney Darlene Pasieczny. “It was a serious injury.”
     Day angrily confronted him on the technical side of the field, where spectators are not normally allowed, Deuker said.
     Deuker said it was the only time such a thing had happened in his 17 years as a referee.
     “Never have I ever been encountered by a spectator,” Deuker said.
     Shayla Green, another referee on the field that day, said spectators rarely cross the field.
     “It’s disrespectful and outside the norm of accepted behavior,” Green said in her testimony.
     Deuker said Day slammed his business card down on the referees’ table to show he was a judge and appeared to copy down Deuker’s license plate number when he left the game.
     “He was very forceful,” Deuker said. “It was not a calm demeanor at all. It was one where, if I intimidate you, you will give me the information I am asking for.”
     Green said Day spoke in a manner she considered condescending and rude.
     “He said in a way like he thought he was above everyone else that he was going to report Mr. Deuker,” Green said.
     She remembers his shoving a card into Deuker’s hand unbidden.
     “I felt like he was trying to intimidate all of us, but it was mainly Mr. Deuker,” Green said. “When I found out, I was shocked that he was a judge. I thought that of all people, he should have been professional about it and remained composed.”
     The altercation rattled him so much, Deuker said, he was still worried about his safety two years later.
     Day flatly denied the referees’ version.
     “I would never intimidate anybody with my position or even my person,” he said.
     Day downplayed the incident in his deposition with commission attorney Victoria Blatchley.
     “I don’t know if I’d use the word confront,” Day said. “I talked to him about my concerns. I expressed to him that I had player safety concerns about how the game was controlled.”
     Day added: “I remember going to the Chemeketa team, talking to a few players. I talked to the coach or the assistant coach. The center referee was seated and he was tying his shoes. I remember bending down on my haunches on the other side of the table. I told him I intended to file a complaint with his organization. I asked his name, and he said he didn’t have to tell me, or something like that.”
     “How did the soccer official get your business card?” Blatchley asked.
     “He asked for it,” Day said.
     “Why didn’t you just tell him your name instead of giving him your card?” Blatchley asked.
     “Because he asked for it,” Day said. “I think I put the card on the table.”
     Deuker said that’s not how it happened.
     “Did Judge Day give you his card without you asking for it?” Pasieczny asked.
     “Yes, he did,” Deuker said. “He came up to me and asked me, he said, ‘I need your name. I’m going to report you to authorities.’ And I said, ‘I’m not at liberty to share that information.’ I was caught off guard.”
     “Did you feel intimated?” Pasieczny asked.
     “Not initially.”
     “Did you feel intimidated at a later time?” Pasieczny asked.
     “Yes, once I read his card and saw that he was a judge,” Deuker said. “There were so many emotions going through my mind.
     “One, I was intimated, but also disappointed as well. As a man of power in our community, I thought he was abusing it. There are some many positives you can do as a judge and I didn’t feel that he was living up to that.”
     As Deuker drove out of the parking lot after the game, he passed Day and his son. He said Day pulled out paper and pen and appeared to write something down.
     “I thought it was my license plate,” Deuker said. “I was incredibly frightened. My permanent address and registration was at my parents’ house. They were the first people I contacted. I said, ‘I don’t know what he could do, or what he’s capable of, but he has our information now.'”
     “Are you still concerned for your safety as a result of that Oct. 17 game?” Pasieczny asked.
     “Yes,” Deuker said.
     The next day, Deuker wrote two letters of complaint: one to the commission and one to the referee association.
     Day was at the center of another altercation at a playoff game three weeks later.
     Referees said they had been informed about Day’s behavior at the Oct. 17 game and ready in case anything happened this time around.
     Richard Horner, a retired referee with 37 years of experience, and the state director of instruction for referees who attended that Nov. 7 game, said he was “already on notice that a Chemeketa supporter spectator had entered technical area in earlier game.”
     “The game had been quiet though competitive,” Horner said. “But just after the final whistle blew, a surprising thing happened. Player 10, an African-American fellow, punched a Chemeketa player in the head a couple of times, right about 10 feet away from me. Gratefully, the Chemeketa players became involved in a positive way and pulled their players away from what could have been a melee. The whole thing was over in about 10 or 15 seconds.”
     Moments later, Day said, he crossed the field to thank the referees for their work, when someone shoved him from behind and shouted at him to leave.
     Blatchley asked Day about the incident during his deposition.
     “Has any official ever put their hands on you aggressively?” Blatchley asked.
     “Yes, there was one,” Day said. “I didn’t see them, I don’t know who they were, but I was pushed and I went down on my knees. They were perhaps 6 foot 3′, about 260 pounds. When I almost stumbled into somebody, I grabbed the back of them to steady myself and then I turned around and there was this person standing there with his hands up. That’s the person I am describing. There were a lot of people milling around, so I can’t tell you that that’s who it was. But he had his hands up and he yelled at me. He yelled something along the lines of, you can’t be here. He may have used profanity. It was loud and shocking.”
     Michael Allen said he was at the Nov. 7 game to ensure there was no further incident after the Oct. 17 game. Allen was a referee for 22 years, then an assessor who evaluates referees for another 25 years. He was inducted into the Soccer Hall of Fame in 2002.
     Allen, 70, said he saw Day crossing the field and yelled, “Get the hell out of here!”
     He said he was about 15 yards away from Day and never touched him, and neither did anyone else.
     Cassie Belmodis, athletic director for Chemeketa, saw the incident and estimated that Allen and Day were standing 20 feet apart when Allen yelled.
     The two-week hearing is scheduled to continue until Friday, Nov. 20. The commission will then either dismiss the complaint accusing Day of 13 ethics violations, or recommend sanctions against him. Its recommendation will then to the Oregon Supreme Court.

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